The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals upheld an $18 million verdict against the OU Medical Center, Children's Hospital and the parent owner of the hospitals, HCA Health Services of Oklahoma Inc., for injuries an infant received while staying at Children's Hospital. The three-judge opinion not only agreed with the trial court as to the hospital's fault in the matter, but also affirmed the trial court's distaste for the behavior of the hospital and its attorneys.
A jury awarded $4 million to the parents of Nathan Shinn in a general verdict, $5 million to Nathan in actual damages and $9 million to his parents in punitive damages. Punitive damages are assessed by juries to punish the defendant.
The jury found that HCA "acted with reckless disregard toward others and intentionally with malice toward others," the appeals court wrote.
In its appeal to the court, HCA argued six points of reversal, including the Shinns' counsel's conduct during the trial, which the defense claimed prejudiced the jury. But the appeals court saw it the other way around.
"Based on the record in this case, it is apparent that HCA's conduct throughout the entire process, rather than that of (the) plaintiff's counsel, substantially influenced the jury," the court wrote.
According to the brief, the defendant's conduct included refusal to turn over documents that had been ordered by a judge, and then handing over more than 700 pages of documents three days before the start of the trial.
"I have never seen an opinion in any appellate court in any jurisdiction as blistering as this one," said Gerald E. Durbin II, the Shinns' attorney. "They (HCA) wanted to cover up. "¦ It was in black and white, and they were caught. There was no getting around it."
OU Medical Center spokesman Allen Poston released this statement:
"We cannot comment on the specifics of this case at this time since it is still in the appellate process. We do intend to appeal it to the (Oklahoma) Supreme Court."
For her part in the matter, Jacob had her nursing license revoked for 20 years by the Oklahoma Nursing Board nearly a year ago. "Ben Fenwick